we found that we have all this and is john maynard keynes once said, when the facts change i change my mind. what do you do? well, the facts have changed. >> fred kaplan talks about how general portrays and his advisers transformed the u.s. military to fight future small wars against insurgents and terrorists. watch him for them for the next hour here on booktv. [applause] >> thank you. thanks for coming out. i write a column called war stories. the word wars in the subtitle of my luck but if you have read any of my things you will know i really don't write about the war. i don't write battle scenes. i am not one of these reporters
who just aches to get back into some more theme where i can get shot at. i do admire those who do but it's just not what i do. what i'm interested in doing is policy and ideas and where do these ideas come from? they don't just drop from the sky. they usually do not automatically appeal to everybody as a matter of logic. where did the ideas come from? who were the people and there were a lot of comp eating ideas. how did this particular set of ideas get transferred? was there resistance? how was the resistance overcome? it usually isn't just one person. it's a community of people. how did this community form? will was the basis of a? that is what history is all about. it's a story. that is what the stories are about. it's about the interplay between personalities in politics and policy and accident,
coincidence. that is what i'm interested in and i am interested in how this applies to war because war and all of the arenas of human conduct, this is the most high-profile thing there is. i mean, it's the difference between life and death for thousands of people. it's the difference between national victory and national defeat. it's the highest level although in some ways the most brutish and in some ways the most abstract level with the human plague so the stakes are very high. this isn't just talking about ideas that are discussed in the university and end up in some academic journal. this affects the most high-profile waffled of human conduct. so that is why i'm interested in this and that is what this book is about.
also what enters into this particular story is that it covers a pivotal era in american history and world history, when everything is his changing. the cold war is over. a new world is coming into focus and it's still not really in locus. we are still living in this world. what is the nature powered? what is of place of america in it and how does this group of people that i'm interested in following, how do they affect what's going on? it's about a generational shift. it begins -- though most of the book takes place during the iraq and afghanistan wars as a backdrop but it begins with the first iraq war ,-com,-com ma the gulf war of 1991 and i come into this young lieutenant who is was just three years out of west point and he is leading a platoon in iran -- iraq.
he just got out of west point as i said one of the top students ended chosen to go into the armor corps because the big war that the army was preparing for was going to be nato versus -- the united states versus the soviet union. he had gotten fluent in the language of german because that is where he would be spending most of his career. he is on the plains of iraq and you might remember they did a month's worth of arming and four days of ground operations and completely destroyed the iraqi military. he is looking around and realizing, we just destroyed the 4 -- the world's fourth largest largest -- in four days. a few months before this the soviet union went up in smoke. the cold war is over and he is thinking what am i going to be doing for the rest of my life? what is the army going to be doing the rest of my life?
he came with the idea that nobody is ever going to challenge the united states again in a head-on contest of strength. it's going to be other kinds of complex. maybe insurgencies terrorist attacks, that sort of thing. he didn't know anything about this because he never learned it at west point. they didn't teach it at west point. they didn't teach it and staff college so he went off to oxford and got a graduate degree and wrote a book called learning to be soup with a knife which came from lawrence of arabia's description of fighting a guerrilla war and he compared the british experience in malaya which succeeded and the american experience in vietnam which didn't. he tried to figure out what was the difference? the difference was that the americans fought in vietnam as if it were a conventional battle
in the british fought as if it was a new kind of war. actually as we will discover later there was more than that. he goes back to west point to teach and a lot of his colleagues, they are fighting these new kinds of wars that are emerging. they have been fighting in el salvador or somalia or haiti or bosnia and they realize that their army has no kinds of conflict. it's a little hard to believe but it's true. the army defined war as strictly major combat operations, tank battles against comparably mighty foes. the other kinds of complex, terrorists, insurgents and that sort of thing, they are called in capital letters military operations other than war. it wasn't even a war. the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff at the time once said real men don't do --
and yet the real men that john was surrounding himself with head and it felt like a war to them. they called them the other than war wars of the 90s. they were wars. in the meantime the main character david petraeus who is one of the few people in the book that most people of heard of, and would later become a protége of petraeus graduated from west point in 1974, one of his first exercises and one of his first assignments was to go join up with airborne battalions in france and italy. while he was there he came across some books that were about counterinsurgency warfare and again petraeus hadn't studied any of this at west point either. but he is reading this books and especially a book by a retired french colonel named david
kahlúa called counterinsurgency warfare and he comes across some ideas that he had never crossed in any book he had read. for example these kinds of wars are only 20% military and 80% political. they are battles for the hearts and minds of the people. in these kinds of wars a mimeograph machine can sometimes be as useful as a machine gun. it's cement that can be as useful as a mortar shell. this is just a revelation to me. several years later he goes down to el salvador. he's a special assistant to the commander of of the southern command and sees this kind of war going on. in el salvador and nicaragua and peru. he later goes to bosnia where this isn't really quite well-known, he was heading up a clandestine counterterrorist unit in bosnia.
soon after that, he goes to ira. starting in 2003. he is part of the force. he is the commander of the 101st airborne division. he goes up the desert to baghdad and then he is assigned to to go up to mosul in northern iraq and occupy mosul. now again this is one of these things that is hard to believe but the united states had no plans for what to do after saddam hussein fell. they deliberately had plans. it was an oversight. it was deliberate because the plan was overthrow saddam and get out. just like we overthrew the taliban in afghanistan and then got out of there and of course afghanistan fell apart. i and iraq is falling apart very quickly. we are facing an insurgency we don't know what to do with like all the officers who are there have not been trained to fight
this sort of war. it was not in the manuals and they didn't know what to do so they do what they usually do which was to bang down doors and arrest people. anyone who has read kahlúa would have known as counterproductive because you end up killing the wrong people and you inflame -- you make them mad so the insurgents is flaming and meanwhile petraeus in mosul decides to put into effect the ideas in these books he has been reading. he and his guys start setting up an election for the new district. they vet the candidates candidatecandidate s and they said that the elections. they bring in fuel trucks. they reopened the university. they get communication systems going. they get some iraqis to open up newspapers. he opens up the border to syria along northern iraq.
he does all this on his own. he is not doing it in the coordination of anybody washington, baghdad or anyplace and it works for a while. then he is rotated out and the brigade comes than half the size of his division led by somebody who spent the previous four months bashing down doors in until someone else comes in later. here's where the story starts to get interesting. here's where the groups on each other. i am condensing a lot of things but let me give you some of the basics. petraeus is sent off to ft. leavenworth. a lot of people in the army didn't like petraeus. they didn't like officers who were too bookish or who stood out too much and petraeus was very much on many counts. zero he was sent to ft. leavenworth kansas and a lot of people are thinking the fair-haired leg, they are sending them out to pasture. he gets to ft. leavenworth and he realizes something.
he realizes that this is actually the intellectual sector of the army. they write doctrine. they form the curriculum and command general staff college. they organize the national training centers and they loop these together the lessons from one affects the lessons of the other which affects the patterns of the next. he says to himself as he is learning all this, and the powers he potentially has. he says holy cow and he talks like that. he says things like holy cow and jeepers. he says holy cow they have put an insurgent in charge of the exchange. he viewed himself as an insurgent. meanwhile -- though there are a lot of meanwhile's. been while there is a professor at the school of national studies in wishing to d.c.. and in the mint historian and a leading neoconservative.
he was one of the people who signed the petitions that we have to invade iraq by force. he is also a member of the defense policy advisory board. so he goes over to iraq and he's the only member of the board that goes here and he sees it's a disaster. there is this insurgency and nobody knows what to do. now he comes back feeling really upset because again and feeling kind of pangs of guilt because you know he was advising this administration. he had advocated for this war. his son who like him had graduated from harvard and recently joined the army and was going to be sent to iraq. he was going to be sent into this mess that he sort of helped create said he thinks he has to do something about this. he sets up a seminar in basing harbor vermont and he goes through his rolodex and its military journals. he invites everybody that he can find who has written anything
remotely interesting about the subject of counterinsurgency. he comes up with about 30 people and they all assembled in basing harbor for five days to discuss these things. the pivotal thing about the speaker is not so much what they discussed is that they met. most of these people didn't know each other before. they didn't know of one another's existence. they thought they were out on a limb on it during them writing stuff that no one was going to read that was way against what was going on in the mainstream army. a lot of these people were junior officers and some of them were mid-level officials think-tank types. they realize they had formed a community and they might be feel to do something if they worked together. they come away from basin harbor with a great sense of mission. meanwhile petraeus is sitting in leavenworth. he knows a lot of these people who are at this conference.
some of them were his students, his colleagues are people who had been under his command. he decides to one thing he is going to do in leavenworth is write a new counterinsurgency field manual for the army. there hadn't been one for 20 years and he draws on this group from the basing harbor conference to be his inner circle, to be his aides, to be the people who help him writes this write this conference. in other words outside the usual doctrinal channels within the army. ..
conspiracy but they called themselves the cobol or west point mafia they came at of the social science department of west point with their own graduates. this happened not by a coincidence, sitting in leavenworth's betray us had a vast network of colleagues in deliberately forms a back channel and cultivates a person from the national security council and seized she is wavering and they're talking on the phone practically every day. this is outrageous.
a three-star general from fort wet weather worsened talking on the phone every day with the senior advisor to the president of the united states general casey you is a four-star general commanding troops he says we only need one more brigade so those are arguments why it isn't enough so when it comes, by the way it is not paula bridewell but strictly professional. but subverting the chain of command he always has been off the reservation guy to do what is necessary here but at the same time a
civilian analyst used to teach history he rode a steady advocating the surge at the american enterprise institute. said to get this into the warehouse into the pentagon to some of these subordinates in iraq so basically by the time the trade is becomes the commander everything is lined up to impose a strategy with the united states government this is not a coincidence, it is very exclusively coordinated. what does he do?
one thing that is already starting to have been is this is a pivotal moment serial iraq and allied with al qaeda, it goes several steps to fire their getting upset and one to break with al qaeda and there is a criminal named shawn mcfarland to canada this group to switch to our side to fight but the trieste's realizes what is going on to apply this struck the country and does this by setting up a program called the sons of iraq. he pays them out of the
commander discretionary fund. with a neighborhood watch those who have been shooting at american's two weeks earlier and at the same time he needs to go after the militia prime minister maliki told the prime minister's day at of sadr city now in some kind of alliance he just send these guys in and does not wait for approval. there is a huge decline of
sectarian violence but here is where we come into a problem with counterinsurgency, pretorius has said the goal of the campaign is to create a breathing space so the factions can get there act together to forge a cohesive group but maliki had no interest to do any of this to set up the oil revenue sharing plan or no interest to bring in the sons of iraq's into the iraqi army as was promised so what we
see now at a much, much lower-level sectarian violence and an unstable state. afghanistan, of betraying us comes from iraq is a miracle worker. i am condensing but he creates miracles and iraq may be afghanistan. obama as an experiment bought onto it with their counter insurgency strategy. the problem is remember the book i mentioned the trade
is and others are consulting regularly, it is a good book but there is one chapter called conditions for a successful insurgency that might make an effort to ground and they include a corrupt central government, a largely illiterate role population, now minister rein, a neighboring state that is used as a sanctuary sanctuary, it is a description of afghanistan. to be then drop a diagram of the typography of what it would look like you could do the overlay so he knows going in this is extremely
long odds that bass. in iraq top commander, it was the third tour of duty. he brings the same on dryish, and it is common to all of us look at the prism of what we know. he had power point* slides afghanistan is not iraq. i interviewed well over 100 people and they said a problem came up he would say in and bar we did this are we solved the problem this way when time in a meeting with president rsi he said with this problem happened in baghdad reid didn't like this his assistant in the room said it may be useful
intellectual experiment not to think about iraq. >> he said i am thinking about it but it never felt together. there were ingredients there for the counter insurgency to work where that we in the local tribesmen had a common interest that leads to a final observation from another counter insurgency experts named david who was an australian who came to the united states picked up as a consultant and he was
responsible for the idea is and how to put those into effect by junior officers in the field. in 2008 he should be feeling good about himself but a lot of these guys was a stupid idea but to we've got to fight them. it's got my job to revise on policy. you should throw out the people you elected. i'm trying to minimize as an expert in relation to advise the policy.
at the time secretary of state condom use the rice putting together counter insurgency manual because bureaucracy should get involved but with the policy makers it is folly to even begin a counterinsurgency campaign abroad unless the country is interested in reform. the insight they had to come added that the situation they appeal to the people because the government fall
short whether opportunistic lee they offer the alternatialternati ve and let counterinsurgency hasted do is coopt to drive up the support so it can do its job and the government just isn't going to do a job and policy makers must do a calculation if they seem inclined when they go in. from july 2009 in europe ministration comes then one week later but in fact, this did not represent deal the administration but it would have done them well to read this. after this side will take
questions their worthies meeting this obama and his national security team to be in the world it was big enteral arguments but obama decided we give the 40,000 troops you want, 30000 + want, 30000 + 7000 with a counter insurgency strategy but here's the thing after 18 months, after the search is over, i will start withdrawing some of the surge troops within 18 months you could turn around so much the afghan army could take the lead and yes,
sir,, no questions. the tray is newt it would take much longer. this goes on for years why did you say yes? first it was not that kind of a meeting of looking for advice but take-it-or-leave-it but when you are a general calling a military advice if you think there is a game it is your responsibility to give correct military advice. but then he thought if i make enough progress he has to go deeper. don't thank you can come back and say mr. president i think three more brigades will do the trick. this is said.
no coincidence within 80 months almost to the day obama appears and is pulling out all of the surge troops, all of them over the next year. he had dead good situation to portray this as a victory , a killing of some of them on in, and decimated troops, the afghan army is getting better but they did not need the extra 33,000 troops said they changed the mission. since then counterinsurgency has appeared it is now abandoned something we should not do and reverting back to an american and way of war. drums from the sky and
commando raids and on the one hand at least reese don't send 100,000 troops to uganda but it sets up this solution of military operations other than war i'm sure somebody asked are we at war in mali or uganda uganda, there are not that many people on the ground but that is the problem that it creates an antiseptic depriving us of the view of mayhem and chaos on the ground and does suck us and it could be a good way to handle but we should not be fooled this is not war and
that is serious for the people that are subjected whether a lot of troops or missiles from the sky. i will take whatever questions you have. >> where will we next go to war? >> quite a few places already we are assisting the french in mali. i am not against some of these things. take mali, whenever obama is advisers to the said his policy is to lead from behind but it happens the french have a vital interest going in his 2500 troops, they ask for help.
we'll have a vital interest that interested in al qaeda to take off of big swaths so for example, we provide long-range aircraft we provide drones for surveillance also libya libya, neonate -- unique capabilities, one thing that will change most of this is done by the california i think one of the new secretary of defense in the intelligence chiefs want to turn this back over to the
military so that it is not have embroiled in secrecy from the beginning at the see a nature is secret slip will be out in the open. >> what was the level of the chess rating of the book and what is his reaction of being published? >> i interviewed 110 people for the book including the trade as. he always has been solicitous of the reporters including me. he kind i'd like singing with reporters but he sees what the military calls propaganda wear this is the way to get it out i remember
i can tell you, a four-star generals before pretorius, you meet with them and think what kind of outfit can this guy become the four-star general? then you talk to betray his or stand in a crystal and think he is a smart guy he knows history strategy and think strategically and maybe he knows what he is doing so you get it -- give him a break so it is a trade-off with the people in washington. you knew what he was doing and he knew that's but he went with it anyway. what he thinks of the book
when he emerges from his exile, they should ask him. >> will chuck hegel get confirmed or will the senate blocked that? >> i watched the hearings a little bit today but several republicans don't like him but substantively that the critics are bothered by this the fact he did not support this surge in iraq so what type of judgment you have and the business about the jewish lobby has intimidated people in congress. the search, almost everybody opposed the surge. if you get after people
because they did not support the surge can after hillary clinton and, barack obama, get after the entire joint chiefs of staff at the time who were all against the surge. you can make the case it works in the tactical way and it did cost a lot of money and a thousand extra soldiers died was that worth it? i don't know. but it is not a clear-cut fact that we won. but the jewish lobby question, the israeli press we refer to the jewish lobby there has been this thing going for years anybody to
chris -- criticizes israel your anti-semitic you're talking about jews, not brazil -- israel. it is playing with words. i knowed jews in nebraska that never got any sense of anti-semitism the last three years has been president of mama's chair intelligence advisory board i have talked to people who have sat at meetings with them and i have been told that they have no dog in the fight there was no deal logical
tilt with questions of iran's nuclear program. and the quality of the answers under questioning is kind of pathetic, but i don't know. i am sure the votes are lined up for him to win but you don't know. >> tell me what you think of the role of the military with a low intensity conflict what is the role of the state department? no doubt the army was effective to reduce the enemy but then social and political and economic restructuring not sure it is
the military's role, they learned it fast and did it well but it resisted department and department of agriculture and political arms we had? >> but they needed to be attached to a military brigade for security. said essentially there was a surrender that was just reconstruction. but this has been realized slowly that's this is not
set up like a colonial government when the french have colonies they control the place just like the british with the bureaucracy security, economics, politic al, our justice department and fbi, congress, justice has overseas operations but they don't want them to be related to the military or seen as instruments of foreign policy. to undercover operations
they don't want a military operation. but in with these meetings talking about afghanistan with the departure of agriculture after afghanistan and robert gates grew up in kansas have been no they know how to grow anything? it has been a problem. betray a says come i'm. they're not trained to do that with a they should or not the they have never been
trained civic i appreciate you coming. i am a retired artillery officer hinder than betray us with that kind of gap it was a culture shock but with special forces and insurgency and if it meshes with the drones reusing that seems to be proliferating and your take on the ethical concerns a said capturing people we blow them away. >> one thing crystal did did create so he reached out to resolve the different
intelligence agencies and conventional forces. when he went out he had access to every kind of intelligence there was handed revolutionized, a very integrated. that could be the subject of another talk. one, in terms of casualties is somebody fired a drone and was on me not much larger than the man the front row and in the old days to get me you need to have a good chance of what is the most inhumane? doing these things in places
we're not at war but in some instances there is this guy, there he is. doing xyz and how that's okay. and making the big fuss of obama and who'd you want? the politically responsible person of united states or the director of the cia? but we're really don't like it where basically is somebody manages a profile of the kind of bad guy with the nine criteria because
mainly you will be wrong a fair amount of the time it is not just bad but counterproductive we are about to have a major debate taken out of the hands of the california where it can be discussed openly. especially the legal to have serious problems. we have decided torture is not a good idea is that better or worse the other problem i have with it is it just looks a little too easy
and provides an excuse to dig into the complexity nobody has time to analyze some here are the bad guys causing problems let's do it with a that's addressing the real problem solving the real crisis sometimes used well it could be a useful tool the more often than not used as evasion. >> united states has not won a war since 1945 and it looks like vietnam no difference between republicans and democrats except ron paul. to pull out of the mideast
that what are we there for oil or minerals or the heroin trade i am concerned about this. world war ii is actually in history rules were too is an anomaly does not been a lot that leads to the total surrender particularly getting involved in now with negotiation or some new power arrangement some coalition we look back when
there was a surrender ceremony where the emperor of japan says i surrender but we have not won awards since then it depends what you mean. i don't know. i could think of small words but it is not small to the people fighting and. if we're in the middle east and pulling out of a lot of troops i cannot foresee a time when the united states or any large power depending on this society would bugout
leaving it to chance to go from the isolationist stance we are stuck there. unless you consider that guinness import of the middle east bridal think we're there for the heroin trade. there was some freelancing going on but the superpower in a complicated world i will wrap this up quickly that the paradox of winning the cold war was an absolute win because we have woven the complex of power of the
cold war besides being horrendous was a system of international order well a lot of people in countries may not have the same interest they would go because they did not like the alternative, and then a close-up, there is no more soviet union. then you have a fractured power centers, we might be the most maybe before the of wars we're fighting we have muss route -- much less leverage going nine in the world because the fulcrum does not apply to the power
balances and power grabs going on now. it is a very confused world and and tell it will be the ad hoc policy, i don't know somebody came up with a grand strategy and how to maximize the influence i know what that would be our anybody who knows what it would be. >> with such certainty we need another question. >> with the fiscal cliff and the strategic of it comedy think it is wise to cut the
ground forces and that manpower intensive we looked at the army in the marine corps some suggested outside of government 25% to the army and marine corps. is that why is? to read a more robust advisory capability beyond with special forces says? >> good question. there are things to cut into the defense budget that doesn't have much effect we have $20 billion per year to maintain nuclear weapons force. i thank you could get that significantly. as a last -- less expensive
of the f-22 it was almost being as expensive, we do very well air to air tools there are these days. we could probably stop that program but the army faces the existential crisis. major combat operations? i don't see russia invading western europe i don't see it being a ground war war, president obama and panetta that the most attention was the pivot one thing that wasn't so well
noted was the idea of nation-building that they show the size its forces for long scale operations which means no more iraq and afghanistan. when you do your scenarios and calculations the small stuff is the special forces. is setting up a special specialist and that is what the army is doing now. there is something in
western california called the national training center with massive tank battles in iraq and afghanistan have direct did mock villages and they have exiles, somebody would be an insurgent and they play these useful and creative games but now it is called full spectrum operation at the national training center for the first time they fired artillery shells but also a humanitarian assistance and sings with the village so they train for everything
and also the best way to cut money cheaply and quickly is by cutting manpower it would take five years to build the aircraft carrier in the first year really spent 5% of the budget know you actually cut a couple hundred million but a guy who gives up 100,000 you just saved yourself when it a thousand and so there is a great temptation with more reduction. how do i think? i don't know. i talk about this and they are in a panic it is hard to you then come up with the
argument. but that probably will take the easy way out. >> i am retired special forces officer my job in iraq with the iraqi for one year. >> we entered summer 2007 and left summer 2008 read at the height of the violence violence, i felt when al qaeda a caveman they had a popular ideology to say yes let's do that but then they switched targeting when the coalition forces became better armor and tactic they
were harder to hit and harder to kill then they shift to those that collaborate and i felt that was in large part of the beginning of the end. >> it was what happened in and bar some approach to shawn mcfarland of the first brigade and said listen a lot of us are getting upset with al qaeda they killed a couple and we are willing to sign the deal if you can assure you will stay here
for a while to help us out and that was the beginning it is true as this man said al qaeda had a good slogan and when they couldn't do that and these were beloved figures but at the same time they realized they were losing that to. for what they call the stronger tribes and the tray yes team did with good fortune at a time when the strategies he wanted to
impose schoolwork that is not to minimize because of their commanders would not recognize for what it was. there was luck but the skillful strategist so he knows what to do with it i agree completely. >> you have any comments up the tray is coming back to public life? >> i think in a few months you will see ham reemerging. his career counselor advised clinton. [laughter] and he advises a lot of people. he is good at it. put it that way. [applause]
>> when i started to right there is one thing i wanted to accomplish, when you write a memoir, and i have read many, a sometimes come away asking the question question, did i learn anything new about a this person? regrettably often i have read books and autobiographies and thought to myself lee did not learn much that i didn't know much i wanted to write something different or at the end reader could say to themselves i think i know her so what my beloved world
was to let you into my heart and soul so in doing that to sure you space was but also a little bit of you and there was a purpose for doing that in one part of my book is probably my favorite passage so i read it because it summarizes an important reason i read the book it is on page 178 and reads the indian person even gifted
one grows up without proximate living examples of what she may aspire to become whether lawyers scientists are artist her goals remain abstract however inspiring are ultimately too remote to be true let alone influential but to provide more than inspiration his or her very existence is confirmation to doubt yes someone like me can do this. it was my hope that every child and every adult who read this at the end during
do to put myself back in time to tell you that was feeling but the that purpose was to tell you from those experiences. and in the process to have the hope every single person in this room to have the difficulties in life that are as diverse as growing up to have a disease and it is amazing how many suffer from a chronic disease and of their life without talking about to being a child raised by a single parent whether my ethnicity or
gender or my background we feel the sting in some way to simply being afraid which most experience and we create a bravado we are okay. we can do this. easy to say. hard to do. so i talk about those things as a way that i can in order i hope to give people courage to talk about an rethink there own experiences. lee was the second purpose to the book the books that i love are ones that i read to
make me think on different levels because there is a beauty in reading books and discovering new things. you learn how to use books after my father's death to escape the and happiness in my home. they became a rocket ship out of that unhappiness but it landed me on a far universe of the world to understanding places i never thought i would get to me i have the wherewithal to do with the india, africa, places i had heard about on television and never imagined knowing and learned about in books i